4 ways to save money by hiring a design pro

Hey there, fellow friends of Susan and fans of Living Rich on Less! I’m Cindy from Daisies and Crazies. It’s an honor to hang out with you here today while Susan is furthering her training to serve our country. Thank you, Susan!


Since you are a reader of this blog, I will assume that you are interested in creating and maintaining an inviting and attractive home for you and your loved ones, and that you like the idea of doing so without spending more than necessary along the way. You may enjoy being thrifty and tackling projects on your own like building, painting, repurposing, sewing and decorating.

I have all those same interests too.  A couple of years ago, a mid-life crisis light bulb went off for me and I finally decided what I want to be when I grow up, so I returned to school and I’m on the home stretch of getting an education in interior design.

Maybe you think like I used to – that only the wealthy can afford to use the services of an interior designer or decorator. Don’t get me wrong … throughout my schooling I have heard stories and seen projects that involved a mind-blowing amount of cash. But the good news is, interior designers can be accessible to those of us who aren’t in the “ladies who lunch” crowd.

Here are four ways that hiring an interior design professional can help you save money.

  1. Access to the trade products

Did you know that there are entire showrooms full of lines of furniture, fabric, flooring, etc. that are available only to those in the interior design trade? In fact, many of these businesses won’t even let you in the door unless you are accompanied by an interior designer or decorator.

Here’s an example of why purchasing through a designer in this way may be a good idea for you. You are in the market for a new major piece of furniture like a sofa. By going through a showroom, you will have the ability to create the piece that’s exactly right for your taste and your needs by selecting the size, shape, number and construction of cushions, feet and fabric. The sofa is then made especially for you and received and styled in your home by your designer. Will you pay more than you would if you walked into a big box furniture store and chose a sofa from off the floor? Almost certainly, in the short term. BUT, you will be spending your hard earned money on a piece of much higher quality. It will be the right size for your space, it will better constructed and more comfortable, and it will be more durable. Imagine buying a classic sofa that will last you for 20 years rather than needing to replace an inferior piece two or three times in that same time frame.

  1. Do it yourself 

Maybe you enjoy doing your own home improvements like painting, tiling, or flooring installation. Either you relish the satisfaction of working with your hands or you do the work yourself out of necessity because you want to stretch your dollars by not paying for installers. A designer/decorator can still be a very valuable resource here through a one-time design consultation, because you have a higher likelihood of making good color and product choices from the get-go.

An example from my personal experience is when my friend/client Lindsay was ready to make over her kitchen and dining area. I visited her home and we talked through what she did and didn’t like about the space and what kind of updates her pocketbook would allow. I suggested some changes to the space and worked with her to select new paint colors to coordinate with the surrounding areas. I later followed up with a summary that included the list of paint color names and some fabric options that she could purchase online. Lindsay then served as her own general contractor.


(Designer fabric swatches turned into curtains)

She hired someone to redo the hardwood floors, hired my referral to paint the kitchen cabinets and island, and hired a painter to freshen up the walls. She sewed and installed her own drapery panels and bench cushion, replaced the hardware on her cabinetry, painted a dresser to repurpose it for a buffet, and created a special gallery wall in the dining space with family photos and personalized art. Our consultation allowed Lindsay to feel confident in her overall design direction and to decide what tasks she wanted to hire out versus what she wanted to do herself.

  1. Commission an e-design package

Along with everything else Internet access has made easier and faster, modern technology has made working with interior design professionals an affordable alternative. Many designers/decorators offer online consultations and have a menu of costs available on their websites. Usually this will require a deposit at the beginning of the project with the balance due at project conclusion.

The designer will ask you questions about what you want to change and what your tastes are, ask you to send room dimensions and photos, and maybe even use Skype or Facetime to have you virtually show him/her around your space. You will then receive at least one design/mood board showing a suggested color palette, furnishings and accessories along with a source list for each element.

Mood board

(Mood board inspiration for Living Rich on Less office space)

Depending on the package you purchase, your master plan may also include a floor plan or even some home accessories or fabric shipped right to your doorstep.

  1. Hire a home stager

Some interior designers and decorators offer home staging services that might be wise for you to consider before you put your house on the market. You know how you don’t realize your child has grown so much over the summer until someone who doesn’t spend regular time with him exclaims, “Oh my, Junior has gotten so big!”? Sometimes living in our homes is kind of the same thing; after awhile we stop noticing that loose baseboard or the dusty knick knacks or the dated wallpaper that are under our noses every day. But those very things will show up in the photos that buyers are looking at online, and they will be obvious during showings. A home stager can come into your home with a fresh, unbiased eye and advise you how to edit your belongings, rearrange your rooms to make them look the largest, and freshen up the inside and outside to make your home attractive to potential buyers.

Have you ever seen real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran on Nate Berkus or Shark Tank? According to Barbara, “Home staging is no longer optional in this real estate market, but a MUST. It’s what will make the difference in whether your home sells or not.” She asserts that home staging can add 5 to 7 percent to the sales value of a home. Other sources put that figure at closer to 10 percent. I think most people would agree that hiring a designer to stage your home is money well spent.

Most of us pay someone to cut and/or color our hair because if we tried to do it ourselves, we wouldn’t like the end result and would end up paying someone anyway to correct our uneven bangs or that funny green tint. Sometimes hiring some interior design help is money well spent to help ensure that we make good choices and avoid costly mistakes.

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